York Festival ideas is one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK. Since its inception in 2011, the Festival has welcomed a range of inspiring and engaging speakers and delivered a huge programme of accessible events that have consistently aimed to demonstrate the transformative power of ideas and education to as diverse an audience as possible. In 2020, the Festival attracted an audience of over 40,000. 


If you would like to donate to York Festival of Ideas please support us using the button below. Every penny raised will be used to bring more world-class speakers and exciting events to York (and the world, by holding more virtual events). 

Support us

The delivery of a festival that is composed predominantly of free events is underpinned by the support of our partners which have included the Holbeck Charitable Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Virgin Trains East Coast/LNER, Shepherd Group, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the French Embassy in the UK, the Morrell Centre for Legal and Political Philosophy and many more.

Speakers over the years have included Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney (sadly one of his last public appearances) and Amartya Sen; former Children’s Laureate Sir Michael Morpurgo, and high profile policy-makers, politicians, commentators, journalists and broadcasters, including Shami Chakrabarti, Michael Wood, Peter Lord, Ed Balls, Sara Pascoe, the Reverend Richard Coles, Harriet Harman MP, BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers, Lyse Doucet, Lord Howard and many others. In 2018, the Festival also hosted one of the prestigious annual BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures which were broadcast globally to more than 11 million listeners.

We strongly believe in the making the Festival as accessible and inclusive as we can. For this reason nearly all of the Festival events are free-of-charge. As such we are grateful to the support of donors, trusts, and other partners to help us to present a stimulating and engaging programme each year. If you would like to support us there are a range of opportunities available to you.

“From talks, to performances, to films, to family fun days - there really is something for everyone and I love that the festival encourages shared knowledge and discussion of ideas to the wider community.” Festival attendee

Partnership Opportunities

Partnership opportunities include £1,000 for support of a single event; £10,000 for the support (and co-curation) of a Festival Focus Day; and headline partnership. Partnership can also take the form of in-kind donations, such as offering the use of a venue for free, facilitating access to high-profile speakers, in-kind marketing support including digital advertising, and provision of other logistical or programming support.

“Thank you to all who have been, are and will be involved in this extraordinary Festival. We have been attending for most of the 8yrs, and we value it more than can be succinctly explained.” Festival attendee

Benefits of Partnership

Partnering with the Festival at any level will provide significant brand exposure through association with a recognised, high-quality festival which attracts a large audience from across Yorkshire and more broadly the UK and overseas. Each year our survey data has shown that over 40 per cent of our audience each year is new to the Festival. Association with the Festival also brings alignment with one of the UK’s leading universities - the University of York - and other strong Festival partner brands.

All partners are recognised in our Festival brochure (13,000 hard copies are normally distributed - 7,000 this year due to Covid - plus 5,000 are distributed to electronic mailing lists, with the brochure also available for download on the Festival webpages), and on the Festival web pages (242,639 website views). There are opportunities for partners to display their branding (through banners, flyers etc), and/or to have a physical presence (eg a stand) at relevant events. Corporate hospitality options are also available.

“So many wonderful and inspiring events, sharing of ideas, and conversations that will likely make tomorrow’s world a better place. For the last two weeks York felt like the most vibrant city on the planet. Well done all!” Festival attendee

Key stats from York Festival of Ideas 2-14 June 2020:

  • 41,730 audience
  • 97 events
  • 184,088 website views
  • 11,471 followers across three social media platforms
  • 92% of survey respondents thought the Festival was excellent or very good
  • 99% of survey respondents would recommend the Festival

“Thank you all for making this such a treat and keeping it free too! You really are helping us all to engage in dialogue, accept diversity, have love and respect for ideas and thinking, all of which is so important for society and us all. Wonderful!”

Discover our 2020 report to partners and supporters, or download our 2019 report: 2019 Festival Report (PDF , 10,074kb)

“Excellent series of events - just what a university should be doing for its local community.”